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My cat Bella waits for me to get up in the morning so that my first action of the day, my job #1, is to pet her. When I get into the shower, she cries. She wails, in fact. “I’m right here!” I call to her. I know she hears me; her mournful warbling escalates. The top of the shower curtain is semi-opaque; she could see my face if she tried. She could sit on the side of the tub, or poke her head around the curtain to reassure herself of my presence. But she doesn’t. The mere sound of the water sends her fleeing.

When we are in the midst of chaos, we — and by that I mean I — often feel that God is absent, that He has abandoned us. Who among us has not been swept up by her own emotions during times of distress or violence or turmoil? Who hasn’t felt utterly, terribly alone in these situations? It’s only natural. In the midst of the fray, we can see nothing but the bedlam around us.

It occurred to me lately that God in chaos is a lot like my cat’s reaction to me in the shower. He’s there; He’s calling to us, but we can’t hear him over our own fears and confusion. He wants us to be near Him; He wants to comfort us. But we, for whatever reason, can’t — won’t — come to Him. We can’t get there. We’re too preoccupied with our own mounting terror, our exasperation, our limited capacity to deal with extraordinary circumstances.

I don’t blame my cat for crying. She doesn’t understand that there’s no need for it. To her, I’ve disappeared into the scary water-making machine, a place she cannot go. So it is with God in the more disruptive patches of our lives. He doesn’t blame us for not hearing Him, for not innately knowing that He is there, with us, perhaps more than ever. Our brains, just like a cat’s brain, can’t fully comprehend His ability to be present. But He is.

Even knowing what I know, I am fully cognizant that the next time my life turns upside down, I will react just the same as always — by crying to wide sky to the God I can’t see or feel is there. I’m just like my cat that way. Reason doesn’t overtake our more primal emotions. And just as I later reassure my cat with petting and kisses, God will do the same — when I’m willing to see Him.

It’s a tad unnerving to realize that I’m not so different from a frightened animal. But maybe it’s a good thing to think about every once in a while. We human beings are not as sophisticated as we think we are. We still need a good dose of God to get us through.

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Have a Mary Little Christmas

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